Gifting has a long history among the people of the Americas. In addition to individual gifting, large scale gifting is institutionalized in the form of Giveaways, Potlatches and similar ceremonies. Gifting is a way of expressing gratitude and thanksgiving, not just to the folks involved, but to Creator as well. Gifting not only included material goods, but often services and sometimes sacrifices as well.

In the long agos when everyone knew each other, the gifts given in appreciation of blessings and ceremonies reflected the giver’s personal knowledge of the Elder’s or Medicine man’s personal needs and circumstances. Thus an Elder might be gifted with a horse, or a new rifle or a steel knife depending on his needs of the moment.

However, about 30 or 40 years ago, money became an acceptable gift providing its use was specified. Thus an Elder might be gifted with $50 and told it was to buy clothing for his Grandchildren. This was only possible, however, because the giver knew the Elder and his circumstances, in this case that the Elder had Grandchildren.

Today, as the personal link between people becomes more tenuous, money alone, without its use being specified, is becoming an acceptable gift. However, this poses the risk of the exchange being seen as a commercial one between buyer and seller. It is not. Gifting remains an outward manifestation of an inward state of deep appreciation and thanksgiving.

Because a gift is a reflection of an internal state, only the giver, often after prayer and meditation, can decide what gift will adequately reflect his sense of gratitude.

Gifting is an external action reflecting an internal state of gratitude and appreciation. Thus, at its core, it is a way of saying thank you. Often, though not always, it is a heartfelt thanks to someone for doing for you what you could not do for yourself.

Gifting is not a donation or a love offering. Either of these can be given for many reasons, including, perhaps, thanksgiving; but donations and love offering do not necessarily reflect gratitude. We may donate out of a sense of charity, for example. And we may give a love offering out of a desire to aid a good cause or to increase our standing in the community.

Nor is gifting a payment or a trade, for there is no balance to be struck, no equality of exchange to protect. We do not gift our Grandchildren for services rendered when they give us a hug. We gift them out of a deep appreciation for them being who they are and enriching us by being in our lives. We may also give out of love, but this is not gifting in the traditional sense of its meaning.

Westerners usually want to know ‘how much.’ Strangely enough I have never met an Indian who had this question. How deep felt is your thanksgiving? How deep are your pockets? Only the giver can know the answers to these questions. Thus only the giver can decide what or ‘how much’. Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, all may experience the same depth of gratefulness. How each honours their appreciation must be left to them.

Be sure you cannot cheat the receiver of your gift, but you can cheat yourself. Deep within you, you know that this is so. So listen with your heart and do not count the cost. It is your gratefulness your are demonstrating. Do so fully and with gladness. And never forget that giving and receiving are the same. You give but to yourself.

So endeth the lesson. 🙂 Hope you find it helpful.

By K’sitew

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